Brains and Brawn

by | May 26, 2002 | Acceptance, Persistence, Unity

It seemed strange that those of us from the orphanage were always the last to be picked when it came to any type of a game at school.

Baseball, football and even dodge-ball. It didn’t seem to make a difference if we were tall or short, thin or fat or fast or slow. The fact that we came from the orphanage appeared to be all that mattered to those who did the choosing.

I am not sure what came over me the day that the teacher picked me to be one of the captains of the dodge-ball team. I was rather shocked as even the teacher treated us as though we were different from the other kids.

This time my team was going to win. I knew who was the fastest and I knew who had the best aim. This was the day that I was going to become the winner.

As we gathered in a group on the school ground, the teacher flipped a coin to see who would be the first to pick.

“Heads!” Yelled out Mrs. Cherry, my fourth grade teacher.

I smiled as I was the one who had picked heads. I am not sure what came over me at that moment. Winning the game did not seem to be so important to me now. I looked around the large group of boys and my eyes stopped at Jeffrey. He was slow and he weighed a whopping 98 pounds.

“JEFFREY,” I yelled out, as I pointed at him.

He looked up in total shock as he began to move his massive body toward me.

“You picked me?” He asked.

I reached over and I patted him on the back.

My next pick was Leonard. He was a small boy who wore black, thick rimmed glasses and he never combed his hair. He was the quiet type and he was not liked by very many of the popular kids. He was without a doubt the brain of the class.

The remainder of my picks were kids that I knew from the orphanage. Or, Kids who were always the last to be picked. Kids that never got to play because of the teams being uneven.

“He picked a bunch of losers. We’re gonna win without even trying,” said the captain of the other team.

“We’re gonna lose,” said Jeffrey, as our team huddled in a tight circle.

“Of course were gonna lose,” I told them.

“Then why did you pick me?” Asked Jeffrey.

“And why did you pick me? I can’t see without my glasses,” said Leonard.

As the game started, I made sure that Jeffrey stood behind those of us who were faster. That way he could get out of the way of the ball before it reached him. I made sure that my team did not stay in the center of the circle. We moved around the circle, rather than across the circle. That seemed to give us a big advantage.

The ball was thrown five or six times before Robert was hit. Another five or six times before the ball hit Wayne. One at a time my team members were hit and fell out. They hit us with the ball as hard as they could, slamming the ball against our backs when we could not get out of the way. Their team was laughing and mocking at us the entire time. Soon, it was down to just Jeffrey and me.

“I can’t believe it is just you and me,” said Jeffrey, panting as hard as he could.

“Just stay behind me,” I told him.

“Get that fat Jeffrey kid,” yelled out one of their team members.

They threw the ball ten or more times without hitting either one of us. The harder they threw, the more they missed and the madder they seemed to get.

“OK, that’s enough. You’re getting too rough,” yelled out Mrs. Cherry.

I will never forget the look on Jeffrey’s face when the game ended. He could hardly believe that he had made it that far. When Jeffrey and I went to the bathroom to wash up he had tears in his eyes.

“You made me feel good by picking me first,” he told me, as he stood there crying over the sink.

I learned a very good lesson that day. We were just a bunch of kids who were not popular at all. Earlier that morning, Mrs. Cherry had talked to us about “brains” and “brawn.” She told us that if we were to succeed in life that we had to learn to use all of our skills, and that we had to work together as a team.

I just wanted to see if the teacher knew what she was talking about.

Roger Dean Kiser, Sr.

Roger and his wife, Judy, also a writer, live in Brunswick, Georgia. You can reach him at: He now writes and speaks to children in the Georgia School system about child abuse and its effects. To find out more about Roger and read more of his stories go to: His new book of uplifting stories titled “American Orphan” can be purchased at:


Brains and Brawn